Girl had told me the wind blows around here. But nothings has prepared me for the gusts over the past few days. And yes, it's blown. They say gusts about 50 miles an hour, and I don't think they are kidding here at all. It blew so badly yesterday driving to the store, it felt like I was being blown off the road. As they say, the east wind coming through the Gorge makes for some great wind surfing but it also chills things a bit eastside. Today was an usual day in the sense that it was nicely sunny outside without a cloud in the sky, and then add in the brisk winds, and it felt about 20 degrees colder than it probably was. I could see many people taking off outside, thinking it was sunny but then realizing it's freaking cold. I've heard trash cans blowing about, there's debris all over our yard, and the sun makes you think it's nice outside, but then the wind gets you and wow. I walked to the store to get a news paper, and felt the chill. I was supposed to go to footy practice today, but ended up having too much to do around here for my own good, and now, I'm taking a break to blog a bit.
The world didn't come to an end on Friday, but it was a momentous day for the Trail Blazers as their salary cap went down $9 million dollars for a player they don't even have on their team. Darius Miles played in his 10th game, and so his salary is back on our books. As much as I'm angry about the circumstances, I realize that things could be a lot worse, like our effort last night at the free throw line versus Charlotte. We should have won the game, but in shooting just over 50 percent from the line, we ended up losing the game in overtime. Things happen over an 82 game schedule, and last night was evidence of a team that did everything to give another team a victory. You could blame the loss on the FT shooting, but our defense in the first half was terrible, letting too many easy layups happen. We'll be just fine, because we tend to not let bad efforts phase us much in the next game, but it does feel like we miss Steve Blake a lot, and we need to get back to what wins us games, mostly effort and rebounding.
I've focused a lot on the Trail Blazers lately because the news from soccer here is kind of slow, being our offseason. But the Timbers did sign seven players this week, well one was with us last year, Cameron Dunn. He played very well late in the season, giving us a spark from the bench that we had been missing through our tough part of the schedule. McLoughlin I remember from his days up north as part of the Craps, and he's a good player and will fit in well down here. The funny thing with this year is that there is no Seattle in the USL and no reserve division in the MLS, so there's plenty of talent to be had if you look right. We'll probably be a better team than we were last year, but then again, I thought our team last year was good to go for 12 wins and we didn't even get half that number.
In soccer, defense gives you so much, and if you can't stop goals, you can't win most games. And really, last year's Timbers had two problems going on - they either couldn't score at all and we would lose by a goal or we couldn't stop the other team at all and we'd lose by a big score. My hope is that this year, there's a better plan in place. I already feel that talent wise we'll be better but it's a matter of actually showing it on the pitch. This week, there were tryouts for the team, and my own friend Firestarter did his level best to give it a go. I commend him for even stepping on the pitch with some of these guys, but he's good and it would be cool to see him on the team, even though that would mean he wouldn't be up with us in the stands. It could be one of those "I knew him when" things.
The MLS bid is also still going on, but it's a waiting game as the Stadium Task Force in town is talking about stadium bids, while the other prospective cities are falling off the wayside. No Las Vegas, No Atlanta, Philly is struggling with money issues, and St. Louis has a plan but major backers to help fund it. Essentially, the competition is Vancouver and Miami right now, and both of their bids have the capital in place and a plan of sorts out there. Vancouver wants to refurbish a stadium that is getting a facelift for the Olympics, while Miami wants to use the Barca investment monies to spread the word of soccer in Miami. The MLS wants strong money in their league, which is why both bids are still on the table and present the strongest challenge to us. We have the passion and crowds, but so far, the money is still being worked on and our stadium committee is still meeting. I feel like MLS is ours for the taking if we can get the money figured out. But considering that two cities are struggling to make ends meet, including Philly which is a team that's already been accepted for expansion, I know that's the tough part of the equation. How do you fund money for a sports team in a tough market where businesses are closing, people are losing jobs, and things are tough?
The answer is that you find a way that won't adversely affect these other services, which Portland has with their bond plan. The money is borrowed off the city's credit record, but none of the general fund is touched so money still pays for cops, services and other things. And building a stadium will bring jobs to town, although some temporarily, but still some folks will make money from a stadium. It's a matter of finding a site and thinking of the future. If you want to learn more about the status of things, visit www.mlstopdx.com or www.mlstoportland.com and you'll get caught up on things. Just remember to stay warm.